A s farming activities set in, local farmers in Katsina State are yet to decide on which crops to produce considering the dwindling market price of farm produce in the state of recent. Traditionally, when the prices of produce like maize, sorghum and beans go up in the market, farmers in the state tend to concentrate on such crops, most especially when it is the same produce they will sell to purchase fertilizer and other inputs for the season.
Alhaji Bala, a farmer in Kankara LGA, said many of them who were doing it for profit would this year concentrate on rice, soybeans and cotton. “The market price of farm produce has generally fallen, making it difficult for farmers to generate enough capital to hire farmlands and buy inputs. ‘’A bag of beans was sold at N13,500 as against N28,000 it was sold last year; and remember all what a local farmer has is that produce,” he said. Another farmer, Shehu Abdullahi Kakumi, said: “The peak price of maize and sorghum is N8,000 while farm owners nowadays are demanding huge sums of money as collateral instead of simply to hire the farmlands. A farmland that can be rented at N30,000 for a season, the owners of such are now demanding a collateral of N100,000 to N150,000 for two farming season. In this case, how can a small scale farmer raise capital to farm couple with the cost of fertilizer at N7,500 and N6,500 for urea and NPK varieties.” This reporter observed that in Funtua, Bakori and Malumfashi, there were heaps of organic manure everywhere waiting for buyers. Malama Delu Hamza in Funtua said previously by now farmers would have bought up all the organic manure from them but because farm produce are not that expensive this year only few farmers bought the manure at a very low price. “Our animals’ dung, refuse and firewood ashes generate the manure over a year and farmers buy it yearly to boost production. We make more money from it when the prices of farm produce are high in the market but when they are low like this year we find it difficult to sell the manure to farmers even at a low price,” he said. Delu added that when the majority of the farmers decided to plant crops like maize, sorghum and beans, there would be large sales of manure and at a good price. Demands for farmlands for renting are low this year, according to the farmers because of insecurity at the volatile LGAs and generally the low price of farm produce. Hamza Dalhat Karmanje said many farms in Faskari, Sabuwa and Dandume would be left uncultivated this season due to the fear of bandits. “While some farms would be left unrented due to lack of capital among the local farmers, in Sabuwa, Faskari and Dandume, many farms will be left uncultivated because of insecurity bedeviling the areas,” said Hamza Dalhat. He opined that provision of fertilizer and other inputs at subsidized rates by government was the only measure to boost the production capacity of the farmers in the area this year. He also commended the FG’s efforts in reviving cotton production in the country through the provision of improved seeds and other inputs to the farmers at subsidized rates.